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Hillsborough Schools: The School Choice Puzzle—Demystified!

Puzzled over magnet schools and choice attractor programs in Hillsborough County? Here’s how to unlock more than 50 school options, all with free tuition.

What’s in store at your child’s next school?

  • Is it a learning lab for architecture or environmental science?
  • A world-focused school culture built on individual choices?
  • A middle school with real medical classes, partnered with USF Health and Florida Hospital?

Hillsborough County is home to one of the top-rated large school districts in the nation, which means all its schools are part of a top-flight education system. But within Hillsborough are more than 50 specialized schools featuring programs that offer an incredible range of school experiences.

In many cases, particularly with magnet schools, themes are woven into the fabric of nearly every activity at the school. At an arts magnet, even the math questions will often connect to ideas such as paint colors, performances, or poetry.

Hillsborough Magnet Schools

In schools with “choice attractor” programs, students can choose to spend part of their class time in a multi-year series of classes and projects focused on a central theme. For example, students in a middle school aerospace engineering program will cluster together to design rockets during an engineering class, and then exit “engineering mode” when they are with other students in English class.

Hillsborough School Choice

Interested? Great – because tuition is free for every magnet and choice program, and in some cases, transportation also may be available to families who enter a magnet school.


Go to to look at Hillsborough’s magnet and choice options and find the specialties and learning styles that matchyour student’s interests and personality. You can get help by calling (813) 272-4692.

Step 2 – EXPLORE

Attend the Magnet and Choice Exploration Night at Tampa Bay Technical High School on December 6, visit your program of interest on their Open House night (check school website), or call the school to schedule a tour. All these suggestions will let you sample the program and ask questions in person.

Step 3 – CONNECT

Apply online at by Dec. 31, 2018. There is no advantage to applying early because all applications are entered together once the application period ends.

Elementary and middle school applicants are entered into a weighted random lottery selection process. High school magnet applicants are selected based on criteria that may include academic grades, standardized test scores, and/or auditions.

Results will be available starting in February 2018. If your student receives an offer to a school, you’ll need to accept or decline it within the designated acceptance window.

Step 4 – GROW

Magnet and choice programs are a launchpad to incredible futures for students – leading them to new ways of learning and looking at the world and helping them develop specific skills that power amazing careers and a lifetime of success. So… What’s in store at your child’s next school?

You’ll see Hillsborough’s choice options split into a few categories:

Magnet schools – the school’s curriculum is totally woven together with a specialty like technology or environmental studies

Attractor programs– a focused topic, like finance or bio-engineering, is the center of a structured series of courses and projects within the school

Hillsborough Virtual School– an entirely online school with local certified teachers where students can enroll full-time or part-time

To learn more and apply, visit:

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